To: G20 Summit Delegation
Re: Peaceful Resolution of the 75-year old Indo-Naga Political Problem &
Sustainable Economic Growth of the Naga Homeland and the Region
Honorable Members of the G20 Summit:
We, the Global Naga Forum, heartily welcome each of you to the Naga homeland, which comprises not only the state of Nagaland but parts of Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh in India and in northwest Myanmar. We are very glad that you are here. We wish you a pleasant and memorable visit.
We are making a fervent two-part appeal to you with hopeful expectations: a) your diplomatic intervention with the Government of India to resume and complete the negotiation for a peaceful resolution of the Indo-Naga political problem, including the repeal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958); b) your assistance with investments and expertise to help us grow our economy and develop our homeland into an ecologically rich and thriving democracy. We are making these two related appeals together because Naga people know — from our experience of the last seven decades of political imposition and military oppression by India and Myanmar — that without political self-determination and stability based on the rule of law, there can be no dependable and sustainable economic growth. We long for peace in our homeland and for mutually beneficial collaborations with our neighbors in the region, which happens to be situated in an important geopolitical junction in Asia, and is therefore important also for the rest of the world.
Sustainable Development: You must have noticed that our roads and towns are badly in need of repairs and improvements. Our living conditions are poor except for the privileged few. We lack basic daily needs like water, and many of our children go to government schools in buildings that pose health risks and are lacking in basic working facilities. Our young college graduates have extremely limited public sector jobs to compete for and few private sector employers to speak of. Rampant corruption in government and in public life is a major roadblock to a hopeful future for our young people. And Nagas living on the Myanmar side of the international border face even greater challenges. They live in dire economic conditions. Chronic neglect of the Naga areas by the government has resulted in extreme poverty, lack of development, inadequate infrastructure, and a severe lack of basic amenities such as hospitals, schools, public transport, and communication facilities. We are therefore very hopeful that your visit will lead to investments and grant-driven projects for wholesome improvements in these and other areas not only for the people of Nagaland but for all our people living in India and in the Sagaing and Kachin areas in Myanmar.
India’s Look East/Act East Policy, which aims to strengthen ties between India and Southeast Asia, is bound to be lopsided and stay mostly at the level of political rhetoric unless it includes the development of Naga areas in Myanmar. We believe the same hurdles will accompany any similar efforts including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We therefore urge the global community to support the development of Naga areas not only for the sake of our people but for the good of all concerned, and to pressure the Myanmar government to take urgent developmental action. The Naga people dream of a time when our homeland and our neighbors in this culturally diverse and naturally rich region can play our parts in promoting ecologically sustainable economic growth and peaceful co-existence for all. We trust you can help us work toward our goal.
Resumption and Conclusion of Negotiation for Peaceful Resolution of Indo-Naga Political Problem & Repeal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958)
We are deeply disappointed by the Indian Government’s wilful neglect and delay in resolving the long-pending Indo-Naga peace settlement. There have been multiple rounds of talks and negotiations between the Indian Government and the Nagas. But the government has repeatedly gone back on its commitments, including the Framework Agreement of August 2015. India’s failure to deliver on its promises for so long has caused divisions and immense frustration among the Naga people, thus proving the success of India’s divide-and-rule power play. On the military side, the Indian Government has continued to extend the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA, 1958) in the Naga inhabited areas. These draconian laws have resulted in gross human rights abuses and killings of innocent civilians. The most recent incident being of December 2021, in which Indian army commandos killed 14 innocent civilians and wounded several others in Oting, Mon district, Nagaland. The victims were returning home from work in a coal mine. Despite a Special Investigation Team (SIT) naming 30 army personnel involved in the killings, till today, there has been no prosecution process started by the Central government. And on the Myanmar side, Nagas face exploitation and forced labor as well as violence and gross human rights violations from the Tatmadaw.
The chief reason military crimes against Nagas on the Indian side keep happening — repeatedly and predictably — is AFSPA, which has been in force for 65 years, even during ceasefire periods between the Indian armed forces and armed Naga Political Groups, including even now while the government of India is supposedly in negotiation with the Nagas for a peaceful resolution of the 75-year old political problem.
The cost of India’s continuing militarization of the Naga homeland has been incalculable to the Naga people. It impacts our politics and security, our lands and economy, our cultures and relationships with one another; it affects our personal health and group psychology, our mental conditioning and sense of ourselves vis-a-vis India and the world; it deeply affects us both as individuals and as a people.
We often wonder about the global community’s silence for so long on the treatment of the Nagas by India and Myanmar. We feel strongly that speaking out against grievous wrongs committed on any people, including the weak and marginalized, and righting the wrongs, is the shared responsibility of the global community. If human rights perpetrator-States cannot be held accountable by the international community, of what use is civilization to the indigenous peoples of the world?
We, therefore, request you, the Honorable Members of the G20 Summit, to use your individual and collective influences in ways that help us start a new era of peace, justice, and all-round prosperity in the Naga homeland and the region, specifically the following:
- Creating diplomatic spaces wherein India and Myanmar and the Nagas can explore and find mutually beneficial substitutes for the endless conflicts. The process might start with a persuasive push for the Indian government and the Naga negotiators to meet their mutual responsibilities to human rights and humanitarian law, leading to a just and peaceful resolution.
- Help with the repeal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act).
- Assistance for Sustainable Economic Growth of the Naga Homeland and the Region.
Media Cell of the
Global Naga Forum (GNF)